Lake Providence, Louisiana

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Town of Lake Providence
Town
Looking east toward town from the end of LA highway 2
Nickname: LP
CountryUnited States
StateLouisiana
ParishEast Carroll
Elevation105 ft (32 m)
Coordinates32°48′19″N 91°10′46″W / 32.80528°N 91.17944°W / 32.80528; -91.17944
Area3.6 sq mi (9.3 km2)
 - land3.6 sq mi (9 km2)
 - water0.0 sq mi (0 km2), 0%
Population5,104 (2000)
Density1,418.8 / sq mi (547.8 / km2)
TimezoneCST (UTC-6)
 - summer (DST)CDT (UTC-5)
Area code318
Location of Lake Providence in Louisiana
Location of Louisiana in the United States
 
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Coordinates: 32°48′19″N 91°10′46″W / 32.80528°N 91.17944°W / 32.80528; -91.17944
Town of Lake Providence
Town
Looking east toward town from the end of LA highway 2
Nickname: LP
CountryUnited States
StateLouisiana
ParishEast Carroll
Elevation105 ft (32 m)
Coordinates32°48′19″N 91°10′46″W / 32.80528°N 91.17944°W / 32.80528; -91.17944
Area3.6 sq mi (9.3 km2)
 - land3.6 sq mi (9 km2)
 - water0.0 sq mi (0 km2), 0%
Population5,104 (2000)
Density1,418.8 / sq mi (547.8 / km2)
TimezoneCST (UTC-6)
 - summer (DST)CDT (UTC-5)
Area code318
Location of Lake Providence in Louisiana
Location of Louisiana in the United States

Lake Providence is a town in and the parish seat of East Carroll Parish, Louisiana, United States.[1] The population was 5,104 at the 2000 census.

Contents

History

Civil War

The Lake Providence area was first opened for European-American settlement in the late 1830s, after Indian Removal. New settlers drained the cypress swamps and cleared the land for cultivation. By 1861, at the start of the American Civil War, the region consisted entirely of large cotton plantations worked by thousands of slave laborers.

The town of Lake Providence got its start with the arrival of the Union Army in the spring of 1862. Under the direction of General Ulysses S. Grant, Lake Providence was established as a supply depot and base of operations for the Vicksburg Campaign. As freed or runaway slaves swarmed into the camp from surrounding plantations, the population quickly soared from a few hundred, to several thousand. What began as a simple military supply camp quickly transformed into a "city of negroe refugees," also called contraband.

By the time Vicksburg fell to the Union in 1863, most planters in the Lake Providence area had fled, leaving behind their vacant estates. The historian John D. Winters, who was reared in Lake Providence, wrote in the mid-20th century about this period:

"The long line of abandoned plantations was then leased by the army and treasury agents to carpetbaggers and to southerners who took the oath of allegiance (known as scalawags). Since the necessary Negro labor, farming implements, and mules were provided by the army, lessees were responsible only for feeding and clothing the Negroes until the harvest, when they paid off their obligations to the army and to the laborers, Yearly expenses ran between $5,000 and $30,000 on a plantation of a thousand acres, while profits might run higher than $200,000. There was little trouble finding lessees for the plantations."[2]

Winters wrote:

"Many of the white lessees showed far less regard for their hired Negro laborers than the most negligent planter had shown for his slave. Negroes old, or infirm, or too young were weeded out and sent to Federal contraband villages and camps located along the river, where they had to be cared for by the provost marshals. In 1863 few lessees paid their labor except in food and clothing. For these items they often charged the Negroes five times the actual value, and at the end of the year the Negro was told that nothing was due him. Some lessees realized up to $80,000 profits, paid their labor nothing, and then boasted of their ability to swindle the Negro. A few lessees used their plantations for shipping out stolen cotton or for illegal trade. Provost marshals and labor agents often were bribed to shut their eyes to malpractices carried on by the lessees."[3]

On July 29, 1863, at Goodrich's Landing south of Lake Providence, Confederate partisan Rangers surprised two companies of black troops in a small fort located on an Indian mound; they seized 200 prisoners. The Rangers burned cotton gins, plantation houses, and Negro quarters on the estates along the river and in the back country which were occupied by federal lessees and scalawags, the term heaped on those southerners who pledged loyalty to the Union.[4]

In June 1864, some Confederate troops raided the area south of Lake Providence and seized mules and horses and some of the Negroes. Winters writes that these raids "during the critical growing season greatly disrupted affairs, and many plantations grew up in weeds before new laborers and mules could be found. During the Union occupation, lessees rarely made as much as half of the pre-war cotton crop and most made less. . . . "[5]

20th century

After white Democrats regained power in the late nineteenth century, like other southern states, Louisiana passed a new constitution and laws that controlled voter registration and electoral rules, effectively disfranchising blacks despite their constitutional right to vote. This situation persisted until the 1960s; until 1962, no African Americans were allowed to register to vote in Lake Providence. That year the U.S. District Judge Edwin Ford Hunter, Jr., based in Lake Charles, the seat of Calcasieu Parish, personally registered some two dozen African-American citizens under a provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1960.

With its large African-American electorate, Lake Providence today remains a stronghold of the Democratic Party, after many of the conservative whites have switched to the Republican Party. In the 2008 presidential election, East Carroll Parish cast 2,267 votes (63.7 percent) for the successful Democrat Barack Obama of Illinois to 1,254 votes (35.2 percent) for the Republican nominee, John S. McCain of Arizona.[6]

Geography

Lake Providence is located at 32°48′19″N 91°10′46″W / 32.80528°N 91.17944°W / 32.80528; -91.17944 (32.805200, -91.179459)[7].

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 3.6 square miles (9.3 km2), of which, 3.6 square miles (9.3 km2) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.10 km2) of it (0.55%) is water.

The existing boundaries of the town are the 3rd location of the community. Lake Providence is located adjacent to the Mississippi River; and prior to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers building the current levee system, the meandering river would overflow its bank and take valuable lands. It was during these movements that the lake of Lake Providence was created and the town succumbed to the river. Each time the town was taken by the river, the citizens would move.

In the late 18th century as goods like animal pelts, indigo and cotton were transported up and down the Mississippi River by people commonly known as longboat men, named after the type of craft that carried the goods. These were eventually replaced by steamboats. Thieves and pirates would raid the boats carrying these products, kill the longboat men, and then sell the goods. There is a bend in the river called Bunch's Bend where a pirate named Bunch would raid the boats. If the longboat men made it past Bunch's Bend without being robbed, they would say they, "made it to Providence." This is where the trading town of Providence was located. It later became Lake Providence when the town was moved to its current location surrounding a natural oxbow lake.

The historian John D. Winters describes Lake Providence as "a beautiful oxbow lake some six miles (10 km) long, an old Mississippi river bed with an outlet through Baxter Bayou into Bayou Macon and thus into the Tensas, Ouachita, Black, and Red rivers.[8]

Demographics

As of the census[9] of 2000, there were 5,104 people, 1,707 households, and 1,191 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,418.8 people per square mile (547.4/km²). There were 1,878 housing units at an average density of 522.1 per square mile (201.4/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 19.61% White, 79.51% African American, 0.18% Native American, 0.22% Asian, 0.16% from other races, and 0.33% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.69% of the population.

There were 1,707 households out of which 39.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 31.2% were married couples living together, 34.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.2% were non-families. 27.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.84 and the average family size was 3.49.

In the town the population was spread out with 35.3% under the age of 18, 11.2% from 18 to 24, 25.7% from 25 to 44, 16.7% from 45 to 64, and 11.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 28 years. For every 100 females there were 88.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.8 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $16,896, and the median income for a family was $20,139. Males had a median income of $19,900 versus $17,135 for females. The per capita income for the town was $8,447. About 42.2% of families and 49.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 67.3% of those under age 18 and 33.0% of those age 65 or over.

Education

The schools dedicated to the educational enrichment of Lake Providence's youth are: Briarfield Academy (PK-12), Griffin Middle Academy (6-8), Southside Elementary School (PK-5), and Lake Providence Sr. High School (9-12).

Notable people

[1]

■Gladys Darden-Hensley (1939–1981), public school educator, first Black female elected Police Juror in East Carroll Parish, mother of Kofi(Hensley)Darden-Hawkins ■Kofi Darden-Hawkins, Quality Childcare Professional, Present Owner/Director of Wee Learners' Daycare Center, est.,1972,Police Juror District 2

References

External links